‘Its a total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson from prison’ – Trump

President Trump urged Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “do something” for the clergyman’s release on Twitter saying, ‘A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. @RT_Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!’.

 

On Wednesday, a judge in Izmir said the clergyman would be held in jail until facing charges of terrorism and espionage.

 

The case of the American evangelical Christian pastor from North Carolina has added further strain to US-Turkish relations, with some members of US Congress calling for sanctions against Turkey while critics of Turkey have described Brunson as a “hostage.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

A total disgrace that Turkey will not release a respected U.S. Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from prison. He has been held hostage far too long. @RT_Erdogan should do something to free this wonderful Christian husband & father. He has done nothing wrong, and his family needs him!

The 50-year-old Brunson has spent nearly two years in prison, accused of links to Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States, and who Ankara accuses of being behind the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

 

Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested Brunson’s release may be tied to the extradition of Gulen from the United States. Brunson is also accused of ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU.

 

In the court’s third hearing, it was decided to keep the pastor in prison until the next hearing on October 12. Brunson, who has lived nearly two decades in Turkey and served at a small church in Izmir, denies the charges. He faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

 

Speaking outside the courtroom on Wednesday, US charge d’affaires Philip Kosnett told reporters: “I don’t believe that there is any indication that Pastor Brunson is guilty of any sort of criminal or terrorist activity.”